It's a New Year! (Or Is It?)
The beginning of a new year always spurs us to take control, set goals, and declare the resolution that this year things are going to be different! Plans, goals, and even smaller objective steps play an integral part in developing a current career, but are also important for those who are planning or are experiencing a career transition.
Setting goals and planning for what 2010 can look like can be exciting, allowing us to go full throttle for at least the first and second month of the year. But what happens when…
…the excitement gets a little further away from the reality we experience?
…it seems that it is getting tougher and tougher to stay focused?
…we stop moving forward with our goals?
…we reach for the remote rather than doing the things that we were originally so excited about?
Here’s what happens: we get stuck, freeze, or just make excuses (pick your poison). Whenever we begin to step out of our comfort zone and begin something new, that little voice in our head will begin to get louder, and a tape titled This Is Stupid! will begin playing. The first track is called Why Start Now?, and There Are Other Activities Much More Enjoyable, Lets Go Do Them! is close behind.
For the New Year, there is a general feeling of possibility and excitement, but the question is, how can we maintain that feeling?
The first secret is identifying and quieting that inner critic.
The second is setting achievable goals that excite and keep you moving forward. It means finding your own personal “GO” button.
Step 1: Identifying your Inner Critic
Ask yourself what happens when you begin something new? What type of conversations do you begin to have with yourself (don’t tell me you don’t have them, we all do). Is it the voice of a teacher who said you couldn’t do it? A parent who always pushed for more? Or is it a friend, spouse, sibling, or even a combination of all of the above?
Wherever the source of the feelings came from, we have begun to believe that what we think must be true. Those criticisms turned into our own personal show stopper of self-doubts. The great news is that it is not the truth. We are much bigger than just our thoughts and recognizing this internal dialogue for what it is, our first step is turning down the volume. Do not argue with it! Have you ever argued with a 3 year old? Then you know how fruitless it is to argue with your inner critic. What you can do is tell yourself:
I know what this is–I recognize that I am up to something big (stepping out of my comfort zone)–and my inner critic wants to keep me small and safe, but I choose to do something more interesting. Even tell yourself: I hear you! But this is the direction I am going to go!
Step 2: Finding your “GO” button
Now for those who don’t enjoy creating goals or a game plan for the New Year, it is good to look at what has happened in the past that has created this viewpoint. Could it be that our experience with goal setting is just that, an experience? What has happened in the past doesn’t have to determine what we do today. What is more interesting, dreading an activity that didn’t seem to help in the past, or looking at what did work and how we can build on that to make it even more successful?
It is important to regularly visualize what the end of the year will look like when you meet those goals you had set for yourself. What does it look, smell, and feel like? The richer the picture, the deeper you are developing your desire.
Setting achievable goals can feel like a paradox when we feel that what we are going after is not within our reach. It is important to look at and identify our strengths, develop a personal support team, and network with that team on a regular basis.
What if you have great processes in place, but follow-up is difficult? A cure-all is to set "small," achievable steps that will keep you on track. After you have achieved each small step, then give yourself a reward, whatever has meaning and importance to you. Before you know it, the year is over. At the end of 2010, you will find that your goals fueled your passion and gave you direction. And guess what: you are ready for January again!